Alternatiively Hippomancie and Hippomantia.
Derived from the Greek hippos ('horse') and manteia ('divination'), it is the art and practice of divining the past, the present and the future by omens and signs taken from horses.
Prophetic conclusions are drawn from interpreting the way a horse neighs or stamps its hooves, or by observing its gait during ceremonial processions, and even by their sweating.
This type of divination has been used by many ancient cultures, to divine illness, love, sorcery and fate. The horse is considered to be one of the most psychic of all animals, and to be able to both see and communicate with the spirits of the dead.
One long-held belief is that seeing a red-haired woman or girl riding on a white horse is a very good omen. To see such a rider in a mule presages unrivaled good fortune. If horses are observed running about their pasture and neighing for no obvious reason, it signifies that someone in the immediate area is dying or going to die. If a horse's tails suddenly appear to be very large and shaggy, it implies that rain is on the way, especially so if there has been a drought.
Hippomancy is a form of augury.
Lewis Spence, in his An Encyclopedia of Occultism, mentions the practice Hippomancy by the ancient Celts, who had a horse goddess named Epona:
"A method of divination practiced by the ancient Celts, who kept certain white horses in consecrated groves. These were made to walk immediately after the sacred car, and auguries were drawn from their movements. The ancient Germans kept similar steeds in their temples. If on leaving these on the outbreak of hostilities they crossed the threshold with the left foot first, the presage was regarded as an evil one, and the war was abandoned."
A horse's pace was also interpreted. Hippomancy, like most divinatory practices, is quite ancient and it has been around since time immemorial.
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (4) Buckland, Raymond, The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying, Visible Ink Press.
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